Mother's Day demonstration a huge success!
Susan Berta's story (and she's sticking with it): The Mother's Day Demonstration at the Miami Seaquarium was a resounding success & a landmark event in the Free Lolita campaign. 150 - 200 people of all ages & backgrounds turned out to help let the world know that it's time for Lolita to retire & return to the wild. Amongst the protesters were folks from around the country - from California to Missouri to Washington to Virginia, & including Washington Secretary of State Ralph Munro & his family. The protesters peacefully marched in front of the Seaquarium entrance, carrying banners, flags & signs asking for Lolita's release. The marchers were greeted with friendly & supportive honks, waves & cheers from cars passing by, & the event was covered by three Miami TV stations, the New Times & El Nuevo Herald.
I arrived in Miami the morning of the event, travelling from Coupeville Washington, where Lolita was captured in 1970. Though this event took place in Miami, there were also hundreds of folks in Washington who were here in heart & spirit, & I came bearing best wishes & thoughts from Toki's extended human "family" back home. And earlier in the week, Toki's orca family even showed their support by coming into Penn Cove not once, but twice - a very, very rare & special occurrence since the Penn Cove orca captures of 1970-71.
The Seaquarium's response to the event & to the media was to spout their usual lines about how unethical & inhumane it would be to release Lolita. And they cancelled Lolita's 12:30 performance out of fear that it would be disrupted, though that was never in our plans.
HG's version: The same. I only want to add that we played a tape of Lynn Wedekind's beautiful musical prayer for Tokitae, and we played the calls of Toki's family, the Southern Residents, amplified with a bullhorn. It was enthralling to see the crowd grow and grow and grow until we ran out of banners and pennants and still they kept coming. There were a lot of home-made signs as well, and yes, every few seconds a passing car honked in support, adding to our confidence.
Miami-Dade County police officers were on hand and were completely helpful and friendly. They very smartly put up barricades to keep us off the main entrance roadway or there would have been traffic problems. Nary a harsh word was spoken. The gathering afterward at Jimbo's was a little compressed, since a music video for Sugar Ray was being shot on the site where we had planned to have music, but we rolled with that and enjoyed the great food provided by Breen's Catering of Ft. Lauderdale and the afternoon coming down from the demo.
We're still digesting the implications of the event, but my sense was that we raised our credibility and respectibility levels 1,000%. The buzz around county hall and throughout Miami must now be that the campaign for Lolita is a coherent voice with a clear message that is positive, non-threatening and growing in political strength. We now have a long list of supporters and a record of a peaceful and effective demonstration. We made some history. We're busy planning our next move now. Many thanks to all of you for your supportive wishes.